The city is close to landing the East Coast manufacturing plant for a company that designs easy-to-install solar panels for homes and small businesses.
McKeesport is in the running because the state has the right incentives and is "focused on jobs," says Bob Bennett, a co-founder of United States Green Energy Corp.
The plant would reportedly be located at the RIDC Industrial Park on the former U.S. Steel National Works site, but Bennett tells the Almanac he can't yet confirm any details. "We're still very early in the process," he says, "so it's a little difficult to talk about anything."
According to a legislative aide to state Reps. Marc Gergely and Bill Kortz, a $750,000 grant has been approved to enable USGEC to purchase equipment for a facility in McKeesport.
"Without this step, it would not have happened," says Bennett, a former Westinghouse Electric Corp. executive. McKeesport "has good incentives, there's a very good manufacturing workforce available, and there are a lot of suppliers we work with who are in the area."
. . .
The company is currently based in Fredericksburg, Va., but that facility has been described as temporary. Bennett says the company is very interested in locating its first permanent factory in Western Pennsylvania.
Contrary to public perception, Pennsylvania's business climate is very friendly, he says --- especially for renewable energy companies that make items such as wind turbines, batteries and solar cells.
"Of the states that I've dealt with recently, Pennsylvania is head and shoulders above any of them," Bennett says. "Pennsylvania has a set of incentives, people know what they're for and where they are, and they're focused on jobs."
. . .
As for McKeesport, Bennett is familiar with the Mon Valley --- he worked at Westinghouse's Monroeville Energy Center and lived in Mt. Lebanon --- and says it has very influential and passionate advocates.
"We were encouraged to look at Western Pennsylvania by a number of people on the state level," he says. "I'm very happy with the state. When you live there, you only hear about the bad things. But there are a lot of things that Pennsylvania has that, for instance, Virginia or North Carolina don't have. They're not as focused or aggressive."
Bennett told the Almanac it's too soon to say where the facility might be located or how many people it might employ.
. . .
According to published reports, the company foresees a $150 million per year market for its product --- easy-to-install, mass-produced solar panels that take the place of conventional building components --- and hopes to employ up to 250 people in the next 18 months.
The grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority is designed to help USGEC purchase a laminating machine to manufacture shingles and siding, according to the statement from Gergely and Kortz.
The announcement from Kortz and Gergely says the company will likely be taking over the former McKeesport Connecting Railroad roundhouse at the east end of the RIDC Industrial Park, located on the site of the former U.S. Steel National Works.
. . .
"This new machine will be part of the company's planned production facility in a restored roundhouse at a former steel mill," Gergely says. "This will breathe new life into a former industrial site and support the development of renewal energy."
The city has been aggressively marketing the RIDC Industrial Park to potential tenants since Dish Network closed a call center in March.
Several high-tech firms are already located in the RIDC park, including Maglev Inc. and Consolidated Power Supply.
Kortz called the grant a "further demonstration of the state's commitment to investing in green energy technology that will help this emerging industry to create jobs in Pennsylvania and protect our environment."
. . .
Earlier this month, the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch reported United States Green Energy is making solar panels --- banks of photovoltaic cells that turn the sun's energy into electricity --- that are designed to directly replace conventional roofing and siding.
One such roof has already been installed and four more are planned.
Bennett told the newspaper that existing solar panels are hard to install and must be custom fit at great expense.
USGEC's panels are designed as off-the-shelf components and manufactured to standard dimensions. A solar roof made of USGEC's components can pay for itself in terms of power savings within five years, the newspaper reported.
. . .
Bennett and his partners have each invested $1.5 million of their own money into the company, according to the Times-Dispatch, and have not taken any loans or used any venture capital.
"I've been in the energy business forever," Bennett told the Almanac. "My partners and I are completely dedicated to this. There are still a lot of details to work out, but this is the critical first step."
With the school year getting underway, Tube City Community Media Inc. seeks a writer to cover McKeesport area schools.
The reporter will be responsible for at minimum attending McKeesport Area School Board meetings and filing a story the next day. Additional coverage of Propel McKeesport schools and Serra Catholic High School will also be encouraged.
Tube City will pay $25 per assigned story upon publication, or negotiate other compensation upon request.
Previous experience is useful but not required --- this is an ideal job for a high school or college student or budding freelance writer seeking clips. Accuracy, clarity and reliability will be prized more than writing skill.
Persons seeking or holding political office should not apply.
Writing samples and personal or professional references will be needed. For details, email j togyer at g mail dot com.
A new initiative will help freshmen at McKeesport Area High School and five other public high schools learn about career opportunities in health care.
The city-based Consortium for Public Education announced this week that it will help launch Pathways to Health Careers at McKeesport Area High School, as well as at Munhall's Steel Valley High School and Pittsburgh's Carrick High School.
Other non-profit groups are launching the program at Pittsburgh's Langley, Peabody and Taylor Allderdice high schools.
Pathways to Health Careers will connect schools with health care providers and other resources to create programs that explain to ninth-graders the necessary educational steps to become a doctor, nurse, technician or other health care professional. The programs will give students information about job availability and salaries, and help them choose their educational goals.
The programs are designed to help students achieve the career education mileposts outlined in the state Department of Education's Career and Work Standards, a Consortium spokeswoman says.
Health care is now the Pittsburgh area's largest single employment sector, and UPMC McKeesport hospital is the city's largest employer. UPMC and the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania are working with the Consortium to develop the program and provide resources to students, a spokeswoman says.
Linda Croushore, executive director of the Consortium, says the partnership "just makes sense" for both her organization and the Mon Valley.
"Every career exploration opportunity that we bring into our region's public schools also serves the region's imperatives for workforce development," she says.
Gina Barrett of the Consortium and faculty at each of the high schools will help students design and lead the programs at each location, according to the plan submitted to the JHF and United Way.
Besides helping students explore health and science careers, the plan is also designed to let students develop leadership and teamwork skills, Barrett says. It also brings out ideas that faculty might not have explored, she says.
"We've had a lot of success with this model because students often can engage their peers in ways that might not always occur to adults," she says.
. . .
Construction Will Close Route 30: New steel beams will be put in place at the bridge being built across Route 30 in North Versailles Township.
The work will force the highway to close on Friday night and remain closed through early Monday morning, says Jim Struzzi, district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
Under a $4.5 million contract, Gulisek Construction Co. of Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, is replacing the bridge that carries Greensburg Pike over Route 30 just west of East McKeesport. Work is expected to wrap up this fall.
The posted detour takes motorists around the construction zone using Greensburg Pike and Warren Drive, which serves the North Versailles Wal-Mart and Great Valley Shopping Center.
Next week, traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction on Route 30 near Greensburg Pike for additional construction work. The restrictions will be in place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly, Struzzi says.
Route 30 in North Versailles serves about 22,000 cars on an average day, according to PennDOT traffic volume maps.
. . .
New Homebuyer Workshop Slated Sept. 18: Mon Valley Initiative will host a free pre-purchase housing workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 18. All participants who successfully complete the workshop, which meets U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development criteria, will receive a certificate that's required to obtain certain community development mortgage loans from local lenders, says Mike Mauer, MVI housing counselor.
The workshop will be held at MVI's office, 305 East 8th Ave., Homestead. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided, and parking will be free.
To register or get more information, call Mike Mauer (412) 464-4000 or visit MVI's website.
Tube City Almanac has repeatedly pointed out that Bob Nutting is running his baseball team just like he runs his newspapers --- on the cheap. And although Nutting's newspapers stink, they make gobs of money.
So this weekend's revelation that the Pirates are raking in profits even while they're stinking up the National League should not have come as much of a surprise.
Here's "the best of" (a relative term, to be sure) Tube City Almanac regarding the king of crappy baseball and even crappier newspapers, Bob "Gives Pirates Fans" Nutting:
. . .
(from July 31, 2009)
(Editor's note: As a public service to the thousands of people who will be attending the 51st International Village this week, as well as the tens of dozens who read Tube City Almanac, we are reprinting our annual handy guide to attending the area's premier food and music festival. As always, it's been updated slightly.
Feel free to clip and save it, or if you can't clip things from your monitor, just carry your computer around with you.
You may also enjoy this 1972 look at the Village, reprinted from Ford Times.)
. . .
Every year, tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians descend on Our Fair City's Renziehausen Park for the ethnic food, dancing, food, music and food festival known as "International Village." Though other communities have imitated it (and I'm looking at you, Picksberg), they have not been able to duplicate the experience.
For months ahead of time, churches, ethnic clubs and other associations prepare foods and crafts for sale, while performance groups prepare traditional costumes and practice folk songs and dances. And there's great ethnic food.
Did I mention food? I did? Good.
Well, that time is almost here again! Next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the balalaikas, tamburas and bass guitars will be plunking, the dancers will be twirling, and thousands of Westinghouse electric roasters will have emerged from pantries and basements and been pressed into service to keep pierogies, pirohis, perogis, pirozhkis and pirogies warm.
Some people will even be making piroghies.
In the past, International Village was mostly made up of those "nations" that stretched from, oh, say, Dublin to Minsk, and south to Palermo. But over the years, as different ethnic groups have settled in Western Pennsylvania, more and more traditions of Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa are being represented at the "Village." For those of us who enjoy eating sweet and sour pork, cheese ravioli and halushki while listening to Slovenian music, this is a definite plus.
Lifelong residents of the Mon-Yough area know that the Village represents a great time and a chance to get in touch with your ethnic roots. But for those unfortunate Almanac visitors who didn't grow up within in the McKeesport area, here's an insider's guide to International Village, telling you the kinds of things that you don't get in the free souvenir program.
. . .
International Village is held at Stephen Barry Field in McKeesport's Renziehausen Park for three days every August.
Contrary to the belief of many Pittsburghers, you can reach McKeesport quickly and easily, and we do have paved roads in the Mon Valley. Renzie Park is particularly easy to get to --- from Westmoreland County, take Route 30 west to Route 48 south. Take Route 48 south to Route 148 north. Follow Route 148 north about three blocks to Eden Park Boulevard.
From Pittsburgh, you may take the Parkway East to Forest Hills, then take Route 30 east to East McKeesport. Turn right onto Route 148 south and follow Route 148 to Hartman Street, then turn left.
Unlike what you may have seen reported on the Pittsburgh TV news, we are largely friendly and harmless, and we do have such conveniences as electricity, telephones and indoor toilets. We don't have a Starbucks yet, but we're hopeful. (That trend is dead now, anyway, which means we'll get one any minute.)
. . .
Parking is at a premium during International Village. Some of the local churches offer paid parking in their lots, but any free parking near Stephen Barry Field tends to fill up quickly.
Luckily, Renzie Park is a large, regional park, so there are spaces available, but they're not necessarily adjacent to Stephen Barry Field. If you can walk, simply plan to wear comfortable shoes, and give yourself plenty of time. You will enjoy the stroll. Renzie is lovely on a summer evening.
If you are elderly or disabled, I hope you can find a space close to the entrances.
But if you're able-bodied, and you insist on circling the parking lots near the tennis courts endlessly for hours hoping that a space opens up, I reserve the right to steal your hubcaps.
. . .
In a related matter, have some common courtesy --- for crying out loud, don't park on the end of the aisle and block other people in. Your legs aren't broken. But maybe they should be. At the very least, someone should steal your hubcaps.
Also, there is no valet parking at International Village. So if you give your car keys to someone, I sure hope you have a bus schedule handy.
. . .
Other Activities: McKeesport Heritage Center, located on Arboretum Drive, will have special extended hours during International Village. If you haven't purchased a copy of Images of America: McKeesport, this is an ideal time to do so.
The Heritage Center also has copies of a recent documentary on the life of pioneer aviator Helen Richey and other memorabilia on sale, as well as exhibits documenting life around the Mon-Yough area and McKeesport's first school house. It's well worth a visit, and I say that not just because I'm on the board of directors.
Also, the Renzie Park Arboretum, which is surprisingly also located on Arboretum Drive, is open until sunset. It's one of only about 100 nationally recognized rose gardens in the United States, so take a break from the Village and stop to smell the roses. (Rimshot.)
. . .
Do: Wear your "Kiss Me, I'm Irish," "Treat Me, I'm Dutch," "Proud to Be Italian," etc., T-shirt.
Don't: Tell Polish jokes, or say something like, "Wow! Look at all the (insert ethnic group name here)!" And speaking in an exaggerated, "Mamma-mia! That's-a speecy-spicy meatsaballa!" accent around the Italian booth is considered bad form.
. . .
If you are over the age of 10, and are eating hot dogs at the "American" booth, you should be ashamed of yourself. You probably think burritos heated in the microwave at Uni-Mart are "authentic Mexican cuisine."
. . .
The food prices at the Village are set by the individual groups doing the vending. You may find $5 for a kolbassi sandwich too much to pay, and decide to eat somewhere else. That is your prerogative.
But for some of the groups exhibiting at International Village, this is the one big fundraising event they have each year. They will no doubt invest the profits from your $5 kolbassi sandwich into silly, frivolous extras like the water bill, the gas bill, the light bill, and educational and cultural programs.
Choose instead to stop for a 99-cent "extra value" cheeseburger on the way home, and contemplate all of the ethnic and social programs the Wendy's Corporation has funded in your community over the last year. I hope the mustard and pickles turn to ashes in your mouth, you cheapskate.
Or, buy something at the Village to eat. It's your choice. There's no pressure.
. . .
Admission: There is a small admission charge to enter International Village. For a long time, it was 50 cents, and before that, it was free.
There are still people who think it should be free, and mark the city's "decline" to the year that they started charging people four bits to walk around International Village. Many of these people are also still upset that CBS cancelled "Ed Sullivan."
If you're one of the people, I'm wondering how you made it onto the Web to read the Almanac, so please write to us from the library or wherever you've been sponging free Internet access.
A postcard to P.O. Box 94, McKeesport, PA 15134 is acceptable. Feel free to steam a stamp off of a Christmas card, or just send Bob Cratchit over to deliver it.
The planned flyover ramp into the RIDC Industrial Park is one step closer to existence.
Allegheny County officials have reached a preliminary agreement with the owners of the Eat'n Park on Lysle Boulevard to take part of the restaurant's parking lot.
Terms are not yet public, but county officials expect to have more information with in a week, says Colleen Elms, spokeswoman for Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato.
. . .
City officials have offered to vacate part of an alley next to the restaurant, and trade the property to Eat'n Park, in exchange for the right-of-way through the parking lot. Elms could not verify whether that deal, was, in fact, going forward.
However, no agreement has yet been finalized with the neighboring Rite-Aid pharmacy, Elms says. That property is owned by a Hermitage, Tenn., investor.
The long-promised flyover ramp has been a goal of both RIDC and city officials ever since the industrial park was created on the former U.S. Steel National Works site two decades ago. Access to the site is limited to railroad crossings at Center and Locust streets, which has discouraged some potential tenants.
. . .
The center's largest tenant, a call center operated by Dish Network, closed in March, leaving 800 people without work.
City officials have met with three potential tenants, Mayor Jim Brewster says. One of the tenants was interested in the former Dish Network building, while another wanted the unfinished space adjacent to that structure.
Each of the tenants would bring several hundred employees, he says, but the lack of unhampered vehicle access is an obstacle to selling or renting property on the site.
Allegheny County Council has opened bids on construction of the ramp, ranging from $5.7 million to $8 million, but those bids are subject to change, Elms says, and the final cost won't be known until the construction contract is awarded by the county's public works department. Earlier estimates quoting a "$14 million" price tag for construction of the ramp are erroneous, she says.
(Editor's Note: The $14 million figure has been quoted by various news outlets, including the Almanac, and appears to have come from a 2008 Allegheny County press release.)
. . .
The project is being funded in part through a $6 million grant from the federal "stimulus" package for infrastructure improvements.
No groundbreaking has been scheduled, Elms says, because construction cannot begin until the county officially takes possession of the property.
The flyover ramp will cross the CSX Railroad tracks and allow traffic to enter the industrial park directly from the foot of Coursin Street.
When you travel around the Northeast, you learn quickly that McKeesport is hardly some exceptional case. There are McKeesports all over the place --- small cities whose industrial bases have vanished, with nothing to replace them.
We just returned from a few days at the Lake Erie shore in northwestern Ohio. In Sandusky, best known as the home of the Cedar Point amusement park, manufacturers small and large once cranked out plastic panels, bearings, seats and other components for Detroit's "Big 3," as well as replacement aftermarket auto parts.
As you might expect, the recent bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors hit those plants hard. If that wasn't bad enough, they're also being squeezed out of the market by low-cost, low-wage Chinese plants. The remaining factories in Sandusky are hanging on by their fingernails, according to the Sandusky Register.
Even if they survive, those plants are relatively small, employing between 300 and 700 workers. I thought tourism would have filled the gap in Sandusky --- besides Cedar Point, there are biking and hiking trails along the waterfront, and lakeshore property invariably brings development, right?
. . .
Not really. On the roads leading to Cedar Point, there's a lot of retail business, but the Sandusky waterfront also has a lot of empty, decaying old buildings.
In short, Sandusky pretty much looks like McKeesport --- some really nice neighborhoods and some really, really rough ones, with a lot of vacant or underused commercial property. More than 15 percent of Sandusky residents are below the poverty line.
Sandusky is located in Erie County, whose biggest employers these days include Cedar Point, the Kalahari waterpark resort, and several non-profits and government agencies.
In nearby Port Clinton, where ferryboats take vacationers out to explore Lake Erie's islands at $18 per person (one way!), the business district has some wonderful stores and restaurants, but it also looks a little run-down and tired.
There are plenty of vacant storefronts there, too. People who aren't working don't buy many souvenirs and don't take many $18 ferry rides.
. . .
None of this is meant to beat up on Port Clinton (where we had a really wonderful time), Sandusky or any other city.
It is meant to question some of the negativity constantly leveled against McKeesport, Duquesne and other cities, much of it by former residents. The letters-to-the-editor in the Daily News and some of the comments on the otherwise-wonderful "McKeesport Memories" Facebook page can sometimes be as depressing as a month of rain and as bitter as a vinegar bath.
True, some of the problems in McKeesport and Duquesne (and Pittsburgh and Altoona) were undoubtedly failures of those cities' leadership. But it's hard to see what would have produced a different outcome, and Luke Ravenstahl isn't responsible for Sandusky's 15 percent poverty rate any more than Jim Brewster is for vacant stores in Port Clinton's business district.
When the jobs aren't there, people aren't there, the tax revenues aren't there, and stores aren't there, and all the finger-pointing and nasty Internet comments in the world won't change that.
. . .
This is all meant to make a fairly depressing, but obvious point --- the biggest thing hurting America's cities isn't the Community Reinvestment Act, or ACORN, or teachers' unions, or Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank, or estate taxes, or gay marriage or gun control or whatever whipping-boy the far-right-wing is flogging today on Fox News and Jim Quinn's radio show.
The biggest thing hurting America's cities --- including McKeesport --- is a lack of good-paying jobs.
During the Reagan years, we were told that unionized workers were lazy and needed to become more productive. Well, in Seymour, Ind., which is about the same size as McKeesport, there's an ironing board factory. It's the last one in the United States.
According to a recent story in the Washington Post, the plant has squeezed wages as far down as they can go and has speeded up production to crank out an ironing board every five seconds. And it's not unionized. They still can't compete with Chinese manufacturers, who dump ironing boards onto the American market below cost.
. . .
The Reagan administration also told us that as the manufacturing sector declined, service-industry jobs would replace them. Maybe they replaced them, but they never supplanted them.
I've heard people complain about the pace of redevelopment at the old U.S. Steel National Works, which is administered by the non-profit, county-run Regional Industrial Development Corp. Why hasn't the site been redeveloped like the Waterfront shopping complex in Homestead?
That's a good question. I ask --- would it really make a difference? Before the U.S. Steel Homestead Works closed in 1986, workers averaged $14 an hour --- almost $32 per hour in 2010 dollars. Right now, workers at the Barnes & Noble in Homestead --- to name just one of the retail businesses in the Waterfront --- average $8 to $10 per hour.
It's hard to see the Waterfront as a replacement for industrial jobs.
. . .
In Sandusky, to take another example, the Kalahari waterpark is hiring, but according to its website it's looking for room attendants, receptionists, cocktail servers and concession-stand cooks. I suspect none of those jobs pay a third of what a seat assembler makes at the old Ford plant on Tiffin Avenue.
I also see that a guest room at Kalahari's hotel goes for about $300 per night. At that rate, I suspect few of Kalahari's employees could afford to stay there.
Yet still we get the Reagan mantra --- "cut taxes, cut government, cut spending, and jobs will follow." The jobs followed, all right --- they followed other jobs going overseas. And as Paul Krugman pointed out this week in the New York Times, cities across the United States have already cut taxes, cut government and cut spending to the bone.
. . .
But now they've cut most of the fat, and they're cutting the bones, too: Local governments all over the U.S. are turning out streetlights, shortening school years and actually unpaving streets to save money.
"And what about the economy's future?" asks Krugman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2008. "Everything we know about economic growth says that a well-educated population and high-quality infrastructure are crucial. Emerging nations are making huge efforts to upgrade their roads, their ports and their schools. Yet in America we're going backward."
Krugman points out that simply raising taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans would provide the revenue needed to put the lights back on, pave streets and reopen schools.
But "three decades of anti-government rhetoric," Krugman says, makes any such tax increase monstrously difficult to pass. He concludes that "America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere."
. . .
Increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans would help maintain basic services, but higher taxes and more government spending are a stop-gap, not a cure. A sweeping reform of America's trade policies to protect jobs from unfair competition is needed.
Yet the same people peddling the "no taxes, no government line" for the past 30 years --- represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others --- have also peddled a "free trade above all" philosophy that makes tariffs as unpalatable as taxes.
Take that Indiana ironing board factory, for instance. As the Post notes, Wal-Mart is screaming bloody murder to get the U.S. to lift tariffs on Chinese ironing boards. When that happens, the Seymour factory will probably close, too.
. . .
In that same Washington Post story, an economist from something called the "Peterson Institute" says the 200 ironing board workers can just find other jobs. Sure they can --- in the service industry, making half what they now make.
And The Peterson Institute turns out to have been founded by Peter G. Peterson, a former Nixon Administration official and Wall Street investment banker who's ranked among Forbes Magazine's 400 wealthiest Americans.
In other words, Peter G. Peterson pushed the anti-tax rhetoric so that he could benefit from it, and he also benefited from sending American jobs someplace else. Now he's using his wealth to fund a tax-exempt foundation whose purpose is to explain why it's a good idea to make the Peter G. Petersons of the world even richer!
I'm no socialist, but when you look at those kinds of connections, it's hard not to feel like the game is rigged against the working class.
. . .
As cities like McKeesport or Sandusky decline, those able to move away go to newer, shinier communities. But unless tax and tariff policies change, and unless we build back our manufacturing base and our middle class, more and more cities will look like McKeesport.
As Paul Krugman points out, it isn't just older cities any more --- newer suburban communities are feeling the same pressures.
Somebody tell me --- when all of the nation's communities finally look like McKeesport, to where will we move?
According to the large ad in Friday's Daily News, the paper's parent organization, Trib Total Media, is giving away a trip to see Glenn Beck's tea party rally on Aug. 28 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
In case you haven't heard, on the 47th anniversary of the day that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, Glenn Beck, the former "morning zoo" disc jockey, shameless huckster and serial prevaricator, is going to plant his feet in the same spot and spew more of his fact-free nonsense.
(In fairness, although the rally has the support of many members of various "tea party" organizations, it isn't specifically for any of them. Beck's instead labeled it a rally to "Restore America's Honor." Of course, this is the same Glenn Beck who once called a woman live, on the radio, to mock her for having a miscarriage, so I'm not sure what he knows about "honor.")
. . .
Syndicated columnist Bill Press, a liberal, calls the Aug. 28 rally "outrageous," while Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, says it's a blatant attempt to "hijack" King's legacy for commercial purposes.
If there's any justice in the world, a stray thunderstorm will pass over the Lincoln Memorial while Beck speaks so that God can throw down lightning bolts. But I digress.
"Grand prize" in Trib Total Media's contest is breakfast with Beck and Sarah Palin, the half-term governor of a state with only about half the population of Allegheny County.
I assume that second prize is two breakfasts with Glenn and Sarah, third prize is three breakfasts, fourth prize is four breakfasts, etc.
. . .
Maybe my real question is: Why are serious news organizations --- which exist to inform and educate, something which the Daily News and Tribune-Review generally do well --- associating themselves with what amounts to a carnival of ignorance?
Don't take my word for it. Read what U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican from South Carolina, had to say this week.
Inglis is one of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives (he has a 93 percent lifetime approval rating from the American Conservative Union) but recently lost his bid for re-election to a Tea Party-backed candidate:
Now he's freely recounting his frustrating interactions with tea party types, while noting that Republican leaders are pushing rhetoric tainted with racism, that conservative activists are dabbling in anti-Semitic conspiracy theory nonsense, and that Sarah Palin celebrates ignorance...
Inglis lists the examples: falsely claiming Obama's health care overhaul included "death panels," raising questions about Obama's birthplace, calling the president a socialist, and maintaining that the Community Reinvestment Act was a major factor of the financial meltdown.
"CRA," Inglis says, "has been around for decades. How could it suddenly create this problem? You see how that has other things worked into it?" Racism? "Yes," Inglis says ...
What about Sarah Palin? Inglis pauses for a moment: "I think that there are people who seem to think that ignorance is strength." And he says of her: "If I choose to remain ignorant and uninformed and encourage people to follow me while I celebrate my lack of information," that's not responsible.
'Rally' Tomorrow at Renzie: Mon-Yough communities will hold a daylong series of events highlighting violence and drug abuse prevention, beginning with a five-kilometer "walk, bike or run" event from Renziehausen Park to the Palisades, Downtown.
The "Walk, Run and Ride Against Drugs, Violence and Abuse Among Our Youth" begins at Renzie at 9 a.m.
The annual "Rally in the Valley," sponsored by the Mon-Valley Concerned Citizens Committee, begins that afternoon at 1 p.m. in Renzie. Events include entertainment, motivational speakers and interdenominational worship services.
. . .
Marina Concert Series: The summer concert series at the McKees Point Marina continues tomorrow with "Six on the Beach." Billing themselves as "the ultimate dance band," Six on the Beach plays music from tropical locations, including Caribbean tunes, reggae and salsa numbers, and Jimmy Buffett songs.
The band is comprised of members of Dr. Zoot and the Suits. The free concert begins at 8 p.m.
McKees Point Marina is located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Water Street, Downtown.
. . .
Renzie Concert Sunday: The Real Deal Band plays at the Lions Bandshell at Renziehausen Park at 7 p.m. Sunday. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair.
The bandshell is located at the corner of Eden Park Boulevard and Tulip Drive. Renzie summer concerts are free and sponsored by the City of McKeesport and the McKeesport Lions Club. Members of the Lions Club also will be collecting used pairs of eyeglasses, and refreshments will be available.
. . .
But Not Least: Allegheny County property tax assessors are conducting field reviews in the city, officials said.
The assessors have photo identification cards and wear green safety vests clearly labeled "Property Assessments." Any resident concerned should call the county's Office of Property Assessments at (412) 350-4600.
The Almanac is taking a brief rest. Port Authority buses will operate on a normal schedule (that is, 15 minutes behind) and garbage collection will continue as usual (which, in my borough, means they'll leave the cans out in the street where they get run over).
Until we return, why not check out some of the fine, fine offerings on our blogroll? May I suggest: